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Akuma Kousaka 2011-06-18 00:47

The domination of yaoi: yuri is forever an uke
A little bit of trivia for those who don't know, but uke is a term most often applied to yaoi (romance between males), where one guy is notably submissive and receives the advances of his partner, the seme, which means "attacker." The seme-uke dynamic can also be applied to yuri (romance between females), but it usually goes nameless or under a different moniker entirely. It would certainly be difficult to envision yuri taking an uke position since its personification would be female while yaoi would be a guy, but the former is overshadowed so much anyway.

Why is the output of yaoi so much higher compared to yuri? Because yaoi is more profitable. Why is yaoi more profitable? Because more people are willing to buy that stuff. Why are more people willing to buy that stuff?

...That's where I got stuck. Both of these romantic sub-genres feature taboo relationships, so why does there seem to be more audience/reader acceptance of one set of gender-monotony and not the other? Is there some kind of greater psychology at work or are more people just really turned on by guy-on-guy than they are girl-on-girl? I mean, there has to be a reason I can walk into any random bookstore, ask for yaoi, and be directed to Loveless, then ask for yuri, and be directed to books on some Russian dude, right? Right?! And by the way, teasing doesn't count~

Anyone feel like correcting me on something? Or chiming in with your own thoughts on the subject?

Kagayaki 2011-06-18 00:52

That's a good question... I don't know why there's such a big difference. But it's certainly huge. To give some perspective, here's a repost from awhile back.


Originally Posted by Kagayaki
To give some perspective on how insanely huge the yaoi manga market is, mangaupdates has ~4700 series under yaoi.

By that metric, it's the 4th most popular genre after shoujo (9600), romance (8000), and comedy (5750).

It's larger than action (2750), drama (4250), hentai (4250), shounen (3650), and all the other genres mangaupdates tags series with. (Take this with a grain of salt, since this doesn't rule out the possibility that yaoi series could tend to be short and/or not have that many readers per series.)

Even if this is not the most accurate way to measure popularity, it's still safe to say it's way bigger than yuri (which has ~400 series).

According to MAL, the number of anime series are similar though, since there aren't that many of either.

HasuMasu 2011-06-18 01:03

not sure, i'm a yuri fan so it puzzles me a bit too

those stats impressed me though, the reason's probably old as dirt i guess

Jan-Poo 2011-06-18 01:27

It's really very hard to understand because this is a very complex phenomenon.

Who likes yuri and why?
Who likes yaoi and why?

It seems that surprisingly the male population isn't as interested in yuri as much as women are interested in yaoi. I say this is strange because usual males are a lot more open at stating that "lesbian sex" turns them on. But maybe the problem is that most yuri aren't really focused on sex but more on the romance. That's probably why straight males aren't that fond of it while many straight women are.

Conversely, yaoi in general seems to be a lot more esplicit and graphic, at least the most popular are. It's interesting to note that while it's not unusual to find straight girls fond of yuri, straight males being fan of yaoi are extremely rare.

So why yaoi sells more?

Even more puzzling interesting facts raise up if we consider the gay population. There are several lesbians that like yuri and several gay males that like yaoi. So far nothing surprising.
But when you realize how many lesbians like yaoi (?!) every theory falls apart.
Conversely, that I know of, there aren't that many gay men that are particular fond of yuri.

If I could advance an outrageous theory (yeah I know I'm going to be negrepped now)... I'd say that yaoi in general is more "pornographic" than yuri, and pornography sells.

There are as many good yaoi as yuri, but there are a lot more yaoi that are sold only for their esplicit contents, and that makes its production increase exponentially.

Triple_R 2011-06-18 01:53

A lot of anime shows (and some manga, light novels, and visual novels) that aren't yuri as a primary genre nonetheless have yuri as a secondary and/or implied element. Think of some major magical girl titles, for example.

And these yuri secondary elements are indeed intended to titillate the viewer.

Meanwhile, yaoi secondary elements in non-yaoi anime is typically there just for comedy (to use a recent example, consider the character of Fire Emblem in Tiger and Bunny).

So I think what happens here is that most people who like yuri find that they get enough of it as a secondary element in a broad range of anime shows, while people who like yaoi probably feel like they can only get non-comedic yaoi in yaoi-specific works.

That's probably a factor, at least, behind what you're noticing here.

Ash Falls Town 2011-06-18 08:29


Originally Posted by Jan-Poo (Post 3657021)
If I could advance an outrageous theory (yeah I know I'm going to be negrepped now)... I'd say that yaoi in general is more "pornographic" than yuri, and pornography sells.

Eh that's really not outrageous.

Yaoi is pornography written solely for women. Now there's a slight generally unconscious stigma to women using pornography which goes counter to acceptable progressive gender relations.
But due to the fact that yaoi isn't for men at all it can only be associated with women. And this forces the unconscious stigma out into the open where it can't survive without being obviously anti feminist.

So women have to resort to yaoi for all their porn needs while men are allowed both heterosexual and lesbian porn.

Last Sinner 2011-06-18 09:12

I know straight guys that watch the odd bit of yaoi/shounen-ai/reverse harem for kicks. A decently done title of that type that has a reasonable story and hilarious interaction between the guys and looking FAB-ulous is watchable. The anime club I go to is mainly guys and they found Ouran to be a title they quite liked. I've watched Gravitation and I found that to be amusing and funny. And amazingly, the most hetero-hot blooded males in the club at present want Junjou Romantica to be played. But yes, yaoi does cater to women well - manga sections at the two stores in town certainly point out their yaoi sections. And when I see women buying them, they're not recluses or anything - they're pretty, smart-looking women. But there are guys out there who find some of it watchable because if it is outrageous in the right way, it's funny. And according to some women I've spoken to, they've said that there a re a reasonable amount of lesbians that find yaoi amusing/readable. There's a manga title called My Girlfriend's A Geek, which is about a couple where the female is a hardcore yaoi fan who keeps forcing her fantasies and thoughts onto her boyfriend. It's quite funny. However, something like Star Driver is not the type of show the guys I know being found to be FAB-ulous at all. A title like that seems to be oriented towards the females for that aspect.

Whereas whenever yuri gets mentioned, they go cold. Although Rose of Versailles, which has a bit of that and they liked it, but mainly because that title was dramatic and FAB-ulous. But the majority of yuri titles are clean, refined and more serious. THAT is why I think yuri doesn't go as well - because it's taken a bit more seriously/purely and doesn't have anywhere near as much the outrageous behaviour that yaoi does, or not in the way men get their kicks. Yuri isn't gratuitous or loose most of the time. It's more about being aesthetically cute and pretty, setting a warm, fuzzy mood and has more drama rather than outrageous. Your red-blooded guy isn't that likely to read it. Hell, as crazy as it sounds, the red-blooded ones I know are more likely to look at something yaoi that yuri. Try explaining that one. Also, I don't think gay men are as likely to read yuri as lesbians are to read yaoi. Still, there are straight women who read yuri and get kicks out of it - I know some IRL and online. But personally I get a very nice feeling when reading something like Girl Friends or Aoi Hana. But they're not titles I'll find comapny with except on an online forum.

But Ash and Triple_R have a point - yaoi gets more graphic than yuri and plays up the humour. The majority of yuri titles seem to flirt with the idea of a graphic scene then either do one late or a partial one. Yaoi doesn't seem to shy away from it once action gets going. Whereas there's almost always a 'is this something I should be doing' aspect that is prevalent in yuri which leads to the relationship being more awkward and less action happening.

I think it all comes down to aesthetics and the vibe. Yaoi seems to attune with more people than yuri does, for various reasons...Anime fans seem to like humour and insanity more than a serious story. So something like that could explain why yaoi goes more than yuri. If yuri had more 69ing, graphic scenes and 'in-relationship' content rather than spending most of the series in the 'will they or won't they' phase, I think guys would like it more. But I don't think that fits in with the Japanese mentality or society, since they heavily value cuteness and don't like carnivorous women in general.

As for which I prefer, I think the sig says enough.

Solace 2011-06-18 12:23

Outside of the graphic nature, and using my own limited observations, what I've noticed is this:

1. Yuri stories tend to feature girls who both act like girls. One might be more aggressive, or submissive, but it's rare for me to read a yuri story and think "one of these could easily be a dude".

2. On the other hand yaoi stories almost always feel like that to me (but in reverse). The emphasis on uke/seme relationship pairings makes one clearly "male" and the other feel very "female". The character designs don't help either, since all of the characters border on bishie overdose. It isn't uncommon for me to read a yaoi story where the submissive character is rather feminine in looks and personality...even drawn smaller than the aggressive character.

3. I agree with the others, that yuri subtext is really common even if actual yuri stories aren't. I think there's a general level of acceptance, where people have become more comfortable with yuri but not with yaoi, which I think is still somewhat more taboo than yuri. On the other hand....

4. .....going back to 1 and 2, many yaoi stories I have read feel almost heterosexual. I've read/seen many yuri stories that explore the complications and possibilities of the topic, but compartively fewer yaoi stories that aren't just about a seme dominating a uke and getting it on. That doesn't mean they don't exist, and those that do are generally pretty good, but many yaoi simply feel like a Josei story in different packaging.

5. Interestingly enough, this even branches into Hentai. Yuri stories are more explicit (obviously) but the themes generally remain the same (both leads are typically feminine). Yaoi stories are heavily themed in the sense of the uke being feminine, often to the point of crossdressing/genderbending. Futanari stories tend to go either way (pun intended? :heh:). While Hentai is generally warped (as most hardcore pornography tends to be), it is interesting to see what authors will do when they aren't as limited by censors.

Zeroryoko1974 2011-06-18 14:47

I think it's because Japanese male otaku want to be able to project themselves into a hentai maybe? Girls like the yaoi, but Japanese males seem to not like girl on girl for some reason. Maybe has something to do with wanting their anime girls "pure" for them to besmirch lol

Forsaken_Infinity 2011-06-18 15:26

Actually, I have asked this (and related questions) to a few girls. And what I noticed then was that girls aren't really fond of, or even accepting of, girls on girls. Not even lesbians want to watch girls on girls because it doesn't entertain them. They would much rather watch guy on guy for kicks than watch girls on girls. And well, while boys claim being turned on by girls on girls action, the amount of straight porn and hentai available suffices to satiate most of them. And the homosexual ones among them would rather watch guys on guys than girls on girls since it relates to them. What my lesbian friend told me when I asked her the question was pretty much that guys on guys is more satisfying, more risque to watch. So we have lesbians buying yaoi, straight girls buying yaoi and homosexual men buying yaoi. But lesbians don't buy yuri, straight girls seem to despise it and gay men prefer yaoi over yuri as well. Straight men are too busy with straight porn.

And the rest of the reasons mentioned in this thread.

Kameruka 2011-06-18 16:37

Yaoi: product of straight women who hates straight men
Yuri: product of straight men who hates straight women

I always find yaoi vs yuri argument is stupid pointless because yaoi always wins because its fangirls. Yuri remained very unpopular just simply that's how its fanboys and fangirls(yes there are some straight girls enjoyed yuri) want it anyway. Wouldn't it much cooler to like something that unpopular just like you listening to some underground metal bands. I don't think most if not all fans of those bands who like that fact that their favorite obscure bands getting more and more popular.

To summarize what I saying, yuri remained unpopular just simply how its fans wanted. Its doesn't mean uncool to like it and in fact its cooler when its unpopular.

Master_Yoma 2011-06-18 21:27

Well I havent read that much Yaoi but the most of Yaoi I read is about crossdressing. Well most of yaoi is gear to women who likes the chase of a romance that mite not happen

Well Yuri is geared to men or some awesome girls who dont like guy on girl hentai

Chiibi 2011-06-18 23:18


Originally Posted by Kameruka (Post 3657823)
Yaoi: product of straight women who hates straight men
Yuri: product of straight men who hates straight women

This really isn't true. I'm female and I ship ALL pairings. It's not the sex that makes the pairing good, it's the characters.

However, since I am straight, I'll accept random yaoi pictures on the net and go "cute" wheras if I see random yuri ones, I'll go "Bleh." I need to know what the characters are like together if it's a yuri pairing. Otherwise I'll treat it as "men's porn". lol

Jan-Poo 2011-06-18 23:41


Originally Posted by Forsaken_Infinity (Post 3657760)
But lesbians don't buy yuri

I don't think that's true, considering there is a very famous site and organization about Yuri for lesbians:


Yuricon was founded in 2000 by Erica Friedman as AniLesboCon, with the mission of bringing together fans of lesbian images in Japanese animation and comics.
also from the wiki article about Yuri


Although yuri originated in female-targeted (shōjo, josei) works, today it is featured in male-targeted (shōnen, seinen) ones as well.


The themes yuri deals with have their roots in the Japanese lesbian literature of early twentieth century

It is a fact that the Yuri genre was created by female authors for female readers.
And Yaoi was also created by female authors for female readers.

Unlike yuri, yaoi was never intended for gay, in fact


BL creators and fans are careful to distinguish the genre from bara, including "gay manga", which are created by and for gay men.

I guess this is an important point to consider. Both Yuri and Yaoi are focused on romance, (and yuri even more than yaoi) a genre that on the whole never appealed the majority of the male public and that's usually what females are looking for.

It was only recently that a part of the male readers begun showing interest for romance and slice of life stories. In the end if a man is attracted by girl on girl sex he'd hardly be interested in a story made of 50% angst, 25% introspective thoughts, 24% of holding hands and virgin kisses and only a 1% of barely hinted sex.

Don't make the error to think that hentai featuring lesbian sex is yuri, the two things have really nothing to do with each other.

karice67 2011-06-19 02:03

If you say the following:

Originally Posted by Jan-Poo (Post 3658191)
Don't make the error to think that hentai featuring lesbian sex is yuri, the two things have really nothing to do with each other.

then it's also best not to use "yaoi" as a blanket term. Personally, I'd say that most of the BL titles (using the Japanese term for the whole genre for convenience) that are about 'romance' are still called 'shounen-ai' in the West. Though there are exceptions, which is why the 'yaoi' / 'shounen-ai' distinction is quite inadequate.

That said, I haven't kept track of how the Western fandom's usage of the terms has evolved. The impression I've gotten is that those fans that still use 'yaoi' as a blanket term typically focus on the kinds of works that term actually covers in Japanese (i.e. BL works focusing on the sex - "yaoi" is an acronym meaning "no peak, no point, no meaning" after all). I would say that these are the equivalent for 'hentai' works (whether heterosexual or yuri) directed at men.


Originally Posted by Solace (Post 3657593)
That doesn't mean they don't exist, and those that do are generally pretty good, but many yaoi simply feel like a Josei story in different packaging.

No. Definitely not. Josei refers to works that target more mature female audiences and tend to feature more realistic relationships. Most 'yaoi' is targeted at 'fujoshi' rather than Josei audiences. The more realistic BL titles, the ones "that explore the complications and possibilities of the topic", can probably be considered Josei as well, and these women would probably read about a realistic/mature yuri relationship too...though the impression I've gotten is that most yuri is aimed at younger audiences...

Jan-Poo 2011-06-19 03:02


then it's also best not to use "yaoi" as a blanket term. Personally, I'd say that most of the BL titles (using the Japanese term for the whole genre for convenience) that are about 'romance' are still called 'shounen-ai' in the West. Though there are exceptions, which is why the 'yaoi' / 'shounen-ai' distinction is quite inadequate.
I personally go with term as it is understood in japan. "shoujo ai" and "shounen ai" are western inventions that make little sense in my opinion.

Anyway if you think that yuri is a more esplicit form of "shoujo ai" then you'd have to include in your list all those stuff that are actually not considered yuri in Japan.

I think that if you considered all the hentai material featuring lesbian sex meant for a male public, including doujinshi, I think that discrepancy between "yaoi" and "yuri" would even out.

ninryu 2011-06-19 03:38

It is useless in my opinion to argue over personal tastes.

Anyway, in my opinion - yuri>>>>>>>>yaoi. Needs moar yuri.

ArrowSmith 2011-06-19 14:28

I like a good yuri series that takes the subject seriously. F.e., Blue Drop.

Archon_Wing 2011-06-19 14:30


I guess people demand cocks in their stuff, regardless of who it belongs to?


Originally Posted by Kameruka (Post 3657823)
Yaoi: product of straight women who hates straight men
Yuri: product of straight men who hates straight women

lol wut... is that seriously the best reason you can come up for that kind of media? It's ok, maybe you're just being sarcastic like me.

synaesthetic 2011-06-19 14:44

I'm a lesbian who likes yuri and strongly dislikes yaoi. I don't find yaoi interesting or a turn-on. I don't want to read about or watch two guys getting the nasty on. It's not my thing. It doesn't make me excited.

So I'm always confused as to why so many lesbians like yaoi. I've been invited to Yaoicon by a friend, and I really didn't want to go at first, but I realized that it'll be almost all girls there, so I figured it might be a good opportunity to make some social connections if nothing else (and an excuse to dress up in gothic lolita outfits :heh: ).

A lot of the reasons posted here really do make sense to me and they also frustrate me. I'm very tired of the "flannel shirt wearing dyke" lesbian stereotype, and I'm sick of the whole "one girl has to be masculine and one has to be feminine" stereotype.


I'm rather outwardly feminine, and so is my fiancee. So hey, there you go, a real-life couple that consists of two fairly girly girls! This is not unrealistic. And I've known couples who were BOTH masculine--my former roommates when I lived in Georgia consisted of a studded-leather punk-rock-scene dyke and a tomboyish sporty girl.

So yeah, hey? Yuri isn't unrealistic and idealized. It is entirely possible for two women who like being women to be in a relationship together. In fact, most of the other lesbian couples I know are not much different than myself and my fiancee. Most of them are just like any other girl--they are not shaved-head, flannel-wearing dykes!

Ugh! I fucking hate this stupid media-inspired stereotype.

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